2lbs.Roma or plum tomatoes, or *see Note 1 for other tomato options
1mediumred bell pepper, cored and seeded and cut into chunks, or *see Note 2 below for jarred roasted red peppers
2teaspoonswhite granulated sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the soup:
1Tbspbutter, or olive oil, if you prefer
Pinchred pepper flakes, optional
3cupschicken or vegetable broth
For garnishing (optional):
Crumbled feta cheese
Heavy cream, to drizzle
Fresh chopped basil
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Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Roast the vegetables: Cut the tomatoes in half and place on prepared baking sheet, cut side up. *If using regular tomatoes (not Roma), use a spoon to spoon out and discard the liquid/seed bits, as much as you easily can. Cut the sides and bottom from the red pepper and slice away and discard the white core bits. Place on baking sheet, skin side down. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sugar and season with salt and pepper. Place into preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, then return to the oven for 10 minutes more (30 minutes total).
Meanwhile, heat butter in a large pot on the stove-top over medium heat. Add onion and red pepper flakes, if using, and cook, stirring, until the onions are softened and just starting to colour, about 4-5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, dried basil and dried thyme to the pot. Reduce heat to low, to keep warm until the roasted vegetables are ready.
When the roasted vegetables are done, add to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, to blend the flavours and soften the vegetables.
Using an immersion blender in the pot, or in a regular blender in small 1-cup batches, puree the soup. You can puree as much or as little as you like, from a little chunky to completely smooth.
Taste soup and add salt, as needed. It will probably need some, depending on the saltiness of the broth you used. If the soup tastes like it is missing something, it's probably salt! Add some freshly ground pepper, as well.
Serve soup garnished with crumbled feta, chopped fresh basil and a few drops of heavy cream (or see Notes below for other options).
You can use regular tomatoes, if you don't have Roma/plum tomatoes on hand. Remove seeds and extra liquid as specified before roasting. Alternately, if you only have canned tomatoes on hand, you can use two cans (28oz) drained, adding the whole tomatoes directly to the soup and only roasting the red pepper.
You can use jarred roasted red peppers, if that's all you have on hand. Simply add 2 or 3 large slices directly to the pot.
Nutritional information listed does not include topping/garnish options.Other topping options: Goat cheese crumbles would also work nicely here.For a heartier soup, add some homemade croutons to the soup. Simply toss some bread cubes in olive oil and maybe some dried basil and saute over medium-high heat in a skillet on the stove-top. Set aside to cool, then use to top the soup.